Tue, 13 Nov 2018 15:41:00 -0500
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- As workers were getting St. Peter's Square ready for this year's Nativity scene, nearby a large mobile health care facility was set up and running to serve the city's homeless and poor. About two dozen men and a few women were sitting or standing in a spacious area, quietly waiting their turn or filling out basic paperwork before being called for their free checkups. Doctors volunteering from Rome hospitals or other health clinics and nurses from the Italian Red Cross took shifts running laboratory tests and seeing patients from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. each day. For the second time, the Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelization organized the free health care initiative in conjunction with Pope Francis' celebration of the World Day of the Poor, which was to be celebrated Nov. 18. But this year, the clinic offered extended morning and evening hours. Anyone in need could find general and specialist care, including cardiology, dermatology, gynecology and ophthalmology. Roberta Capparella, a Red Cross nurse, told reporters Nov. 13 that she and many others took part in last year's initiative and found it "very gratifying." She said they were so happy to hear Pope Francis wanted to offer the free health services again this year that they jumped at the chance to serve again. "Just by being here all day, volunteers realize that they aren't giving of themselves, but that they are receiving" from the people they serve, she said. The World Day of the Poor -- marked each year on the 33rd Sunday of ordinary time -- focuses this year on a verse from Psalm 34, "This poor one cried out and the Lord heard." The commemoration and the period of reflection and action preceding it are meant to give Christians a chance to follow Christ's example and concretely share a moment of love, hope and respect together with those in need in one's community, the pope said in his message for the day, published in mid-June. Local churches, associations and institutions were again asked to create initiatives that foster moments of real encounter, friendship, solidarity and concrete assistance. The pope was to celebrate Mass in St. Peter's Basilica Nov. 18 with the poor and volunteers, and he was scheduled to have lunch afterward with about 3,000 people in the Vatican's Paul VI audience hall. Other volunteer groups and schools were also set to offer free meals throughout the city.
Tue, 13 Nov 2018 08:09:00 -0500
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis named Archbishop Charles Scicluna of Malta, arguably the Catholic Church's most respected abuse investigator, to be adjunct secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Announcing the appointment Nov. 13, the Vatican press office said the archbishop would continue to serve simultaneously as head of the Malta Archdiocese. "To fulfill the duties entrusted to him by Pope Francis, Archbishop Scicluna will travel to Rome on a regular basis," said a note on the archdiocese's website. Archbishop Scicluna is expected to have a key role in the organization of a meeting in February on child protection that Pope Francis has asked all presidents of national bishops' conferences to attend. The 59-year-old archbishop, who holds a doctorate in canon law, worked at the doctrinal congregation for 10 years as the "promoter of justice" -- a position similar to prosecuting attorney -- dealing with cases of alleged clerical sexual abuse. But even after being named auxiliary bishop of Malta in 2012, he continued to be the person the pope would call on to investigate high-profile cases of abuse, consolidating a reputation for treating victims with compassion and respect, and for insisting church officials respond to allegations clearly. He generally is credited with consolidating the cases against Legionaries of Christ founder Father Marcial Maciel Degollado and Scottish Cardinal Keith O'Brien and, most recently, for convincing Pope Francis to take measures against several bishops in Chile. Archbishop Scicluna also serves as president of the doctrinal congregation board that reviews appeals filed by priests laicized or otherwise disciplined in sexual abuse or other serious cases. Although born in Toronto, he has lived in Malta since he was a year old. He did his university and seminary studies in Malta and was ordained to the priesthood in 1986. During the Synod of Bishops in October, reporters asked Archbishop Scicluna about the state of discussions regarding the need for greater accountability of bishops in handling abuse cases. He said accountability would be a topic at the world meeting on abuse prevention the pope called for Feb. 21-24. "We know there is a great expectation for more accountability," he said. "Now how is that going to develop? I think we need to trust Pope Francis to develop a system whereby there is more accountability." "We bishops realize that we are accountable not only to God but also to our people," and accountable not only for what they do, but what they fail to do when it comes to "stewardship" and protection, he said. The crisis caused by ongoing revelations and allegations "is a very important moment" for everyone in the church because "it is going to make us really, really humble," the archbishop told reporters. "There is no other way to humility except through humiliation, and it is a big humiliation, and it is going to make us humble, I hope."
Sun, 11 Nov 2018 00:00:00 -0500
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Appealing to the international community to help bring peace to Syria and Iraq, Pope Francis and Catholicos Gewargis III, patriarch of the Assyrian Church of the East, also paid homage to the lands' persecuted Christians, who demonstrate that faith in Christ is a bond that is stronger than any denominational difference. "Just as the blood of Christ, shed out of love, brought reconciliation and unity and caused the church to flourish, so the blood of these martyrs of our time, members of various churches but united by their shared suffering, is the seed of Christian unity," said a statement signed Nov. 9 by the pope and the patriarch. The two leaders signed their joint declaration in the Redemptoris Mater Chapel of the Apostolic Palace after praying together, particularly for persecuted Christians and for those who have felt forced to flee the Middle East. The patriarch, who is based in Irbil, Iraq, leads a church of about 400,000 members with parishes in Iraq, Iran, Syria, Lebanon, North America, Australia and India. The Assyrian Church of the East, which is closely related to the Chaldean Catholic Church, is engaged in a variety of ecumenical dialogues, but it is not in full communion with any other church. In 1994, then-Catholicos Dinkha IV and St. John Paul II signed a common Christological agreement, which expressed the two churches' common faith in Christ's incarnation. In 2017, the Catholic-Assyrian Church of the East dialogue commission issued a joint statement on the sacraments, including holy orders and the Eucharist. "We are most grateful for the fruits of this dialogue of love and truth, which confirm that a diversity of customs and disciplines is in no way an obstacle to unity, and that certain differences in theological expressions are often complementary rather than conflicting," said the joint statement of Pope Francis and Catholicos Gewargis. "It is our prayerful hope that our theological dialogue may help us to smooth the path to the long-awaited day when we will be able to celebrate together the Lord's sacrifice on the same altar," the two leaders said. In his speech to the pope, Catholicos Gewargis focused on the importance of a Christian presence in the Middle East and how that is challenged each day by violence and discrimination. "The many decades of war, violence, religious hostilities and sectarianism have had an inevitable and sadly irreversible effect on the ancient Christian communities of the East," he said. "What we have witnessed in both Iraq and Syria in the last 15 years is a living testimony to this grievous situation of the forced departure and displacement -- both internally and externally -- of millions of Christians from the region of the Middle East. "In addition," he said, "the rise of religious fundamentalism has scarred at least two generations of children and youth who no longer have the experience of peace and justice in their lives; rather, they have grown up with the understanding that war and religious violence is not only a normal part of daily human life, but indeed a dictate of religion." Pope Francis said that Christian victims of violence, who are "frequently forced to leave the lands in which they have always lived" in the Middle East "tread the 'via crucis' in the footsteps of Christ." While they belong to different Christian communities, he said, "they are forging fraternal relationships among one another and thus becoming, for us, witnesses of unity." In their joint statement, the pope and catholicos said, "Without distinction of rite or confession, they suffer for professing the name of Christ. In them, we see the Body of Christ which, today too, is afflicted, beaten and reviled. We are profoundly united in our prayer of intercession and in our charitable outreach to these suffering members of Christ's body."
Fri, 09 Nov 2018 08:37:00 -0500
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis has recognized the martyrdom of De La Salle Christian Brother James Miller, who was born in Wisconsin and was shot to death in Guatemala in 1982. The recognition of the martyrdom of Brother James, or Brother Santiago as he also was known, clears the way for his beatification; the date and location of the ceremony were not immediately announced. Publishing news about a variety of sainthood causes Nov. 8, the Vatican said Pope Francis had recognized as "blessed" a 15th-century Augustinian brother, Michael Giedrojc. The recognition amounted to the "equivalent beatification" of Brother Giedrojc, who was born in Lithuania and died in Krakow. With the pope recognizing that over the course of centuries the brother has been venerated by thousands of Catholics, the normal process leading to beatification is not needed. Brother Miller, the U.S. martyr, was born Sept. 21, 1944, in Stevens Point, Wisconsin. He met the Christian Brothers at Pacelli High School there and, at the age of 15, entered the order's juniorate in Missouri. After the novitiate, he taught Spanish, English and religion at Cretin High School in St. Paul, Minnesota, for three years. He also was in charge of school maintenance and served as the football coach. Some websites refer to him as "Brother Fix-it" and an icon featured on the website of the Christian Brothers of the Midwest shows him wearing overalls. In 1969, he was sent to Nicaragua, where he taught and helped build schools. According to the De La Salle Brother's website, "His religious superiors ordered him to leave Nicaragua in July 1979 during the time of the Sandinista revolution. It was feared that since he worked for the Somoza government, he might be at risk." Returning to the United States, he again taught at Cretin High School. But in January 1981, he was sent to Guatemala, where he taught at a secondary school in Huehuetenango and at a center that helped young indigenous people learn job and leadership skills. While on a ladder making repairs to the building on the afternoon of Feb. 13, 1982, he was shot several times by three hooded men and died instantly. No one was ever arrested for his murder. Funeral services were held in Guatemala and in St. Paul before he was buried in Polonia, Wisconsin. In other decrees published Nov. 8, Pope Francis recognized miracles attributed to the intercession of Edvige Carboni and Benedetta Bianchi Porro, meaning both Italian laywomen can be beatified. Carboni died in 1952; Porro died in 1964. The pope also recognized the martyrdom of more victims of the Spanish civil war: Angel Cuartas Cristobal and eight of his classmates at the seminary in Oviedo, who were killed between 1934 and 1937; and Mariano Mullerat Soldevila, a physician, husband and father killed in 1936. In 10 other causes for canonization, Pope Francis signed decrees recognizing that the candidates for sainthood lived the Christian virtues in a heroic way, which is the first step toward beatification. The decrees included the cause of Bishop Alfredo Maria Obviar of Lucena, Philippines, founder of the Missionary Catechists of St. Therese of the Infant Jesus. The bishop died in 1978.
Thu, 08 Nov 2018 07:51:00 -0500
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Life is for loving, not amassing possessions, Pope Francis said. In fact, the true meaning and purpose of wealth is to use it to lovingly serve others and promote human dignity, he said Nov. 7 during his weekly general audience. The world is rich enough in resources to provide for the basic needs of everybody, the pope said. "And yet, many people live in scandalous poverty and resources -- used without discernment -- keep deteriorating. But there is just one world! There is one humanity." "The riches of the world today are in the hands of a minority, of the few, and poverty -- indeed, extreme poverty, and suffering -- are for the many," he told those gathered in St. Peter's Square. The pope continued his series of talks on the Ten Commandments, focusing on the command, "You shall not steal," which reflects respect for other people's property. However, he said, Christians should also read the commandment in the light of faith and the church's social doctrine, which emphasizes the understanding that the goods of creation are destined for the whole human race. The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that the "primordial" universal destination of goods does not detract from people's right to private property, he said. However, the need to promote the common good also requires understanding and properly using private property. "No one is the absolute master over resources," he said, which reflects the "positive and wider meaning of the commandment, 'Do not steal.'" Owners are really administrators or stewards of goods, which are not to be regarded "as exclusive to himself but common to others also, in the sense that they can benefit others as well as himself," the pope said, citing the catechism. Being in possession of material goods brings with it much responsibility, the pope said. If hunger exists in the world, the pope said, it is because the needs of the economic market come first, for instance, when keeping prices up means demanding that food be destroyed or thrown away. What is lacking, he said, is "a free and farsighted business sense that assures adequate production and fair planning, which ensures fair distribution." The pope underlined the importance of viewing possessions and wealth from the Christian perspective of gift and generosity, saying "what I truly possess is what I know how to give." "If I know how to give, I am open, I am rich," not only in possessions but in generosity, knowing it is a duty to give so everyone can have a share, he said. "In fact, if I am unable to give something it is because that thing owns me, I am a slave, the thing has power over me." The devil always enters people's lives "through the pockets" with money, the pope added. "First comes the love for money, the scramble to own, then comes vanity" and bragging about one's wealth, he said, "ending with pride, arrogance. This is how the devil operates in us." Instead, ownership must be an opportunity to multiply those goods "with creativity and use them with generosity and that way grow in charity and freedom," he said. While the world breathlessly seeks to have more and more, God -- rich in mercy -- redeemed the world by making himself poor, paying a priceless ransom on the cross, he said. "What makes us rich are not goods, but is love," the pope said. "Life is not a time for owning things but for loving." For Christians, the full sense of "Do not steal" means loving with what one owns, taking advantage of one's means as a way to love others as best one can, the pope said. "This way your life becomes good and ownership truly becomes a gift."
Mon, 05 Nov 2018 08:33:00 -0500
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- For every Christian, but especially for those called to ministry, God's gift of life is a call to serve others, Pope Francis said at a memorial Mass for bishops and cardinals who have died in the past year. "The meaning of life is found in our response to God's offer of love. And that response is made up of true love, self-giving and service," the pope said Nov. 3 during the Mass at the Altar of the Chair in St. Peter's Basilica. The memorial Mass is an annual fixture on the pope's calendar for November, the month the Catholic Church dedicates particularly to remembering the dead. The Vatican said that in the past year 154 bishops and nine cardinals, including U.S. Cardinal Bernard F. Law, died. "As we pray for the cardinals and bishops who have passed away in this last year," the pope said in his homily, "let us beg the intercession of all those who lived unassuming lives, content to prepare daily to meet the Lord." The Gospel reading for the Mass was the parable of the 10 bridesmaids and their oil lamps from Matthew 25. Pope Francis said the parable is valid for every Christian, who is called to go out to meet Christ, the bridegroom, and always to be prepared for that meeting. "For ministers of the Gospel, too," he said, "life is in constant movement, as we go forth from our family home to wherever the church sends us, from one variety of service to another. We are always on the move, until we make our final journey." "The encounter with Jesus, the bridegroom who 'loved the church and gave himself up for her,' gives meaning and direction to our lives," Pope Francis said. "That and nothing more." The parable emphasizes the need to have oil ready, but oil gives light only when it is burned, he noted. "Our lives are like that: they radiate light only if they are consumed, if they spend themselves in service." "Whatever will remain of life, at the threshold of eternity, is not what we gained but what we gave away," he said. Serving means giving of oneself, and "those who hold on too tightly to their lives will lose them." Another characteristic of the oil in the lamps, he said, is that the light is seen, but the oil is not. "What does this suggest to us?" he asked. "That in the Lord's eyes what matters is not appearances but the heart. Everything that the world runs after and then shows off -- honors, power, appearances, glory -- passes away and leaves nothing behind." "Instead of our outward appearance, which passes away, we should purify and keep custody of our heart, our inner self, which is precious in the eyes of God," the pope said. Like the bridesmaids in the parable, he said, those called to eternity with God "cannot be content with a sedentary, flat and humdrum life that plods on without enthusiasm, seeking petty satisfactions and pursuing fleeting rewards. A dreary and predictable life, content to carry out its duties without giving of itself, is unworthy of the Bridegroom." As Catholics remember their beloved dead, Pope Francis prayed that they also would keep their eyes on how they, too, are preparing for their ultimate destination, which is with God. "A life burning with desire for God and trained by love will be prepared to enter the chamber of the Bridegroom for all eternity."
Mon, 05 Nov 2018 08:08:00 -0500
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Although sand castles and sculptures usually conjure up images of hot summers on the beach, the Vatican will unveil a massive Nativity scene made entirely of sand during the cold Roman winter. According to the Vatican newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano, the Nativity scene displayed in St. Peter's Square will feature a 52-foot wide sand sculpture from Jesolo, an Italian seaside resort town roughly 40 miles north of Venice. The intricate sculpture, along with a 42-foot-tall red spruce tree donated by the Diocese of Concordia-Pordenone in the northern Italian region of Veneto, will be unveiled at the Vatican's annual tree lighting ceremony Dec. 7. Bas-relief sand sculptures, like the one that will be featured in St. Peter's Square, are a tradition in Jesolo which, since 1998, has been the home of an annual sand sculpture festival. At the helm of the sculpture project, dubbed the "Sand Nativity," is U.S. sculptor Rich Varano from New Smyrna Beach, Florida. According to the city's website for the Nativity scene, Varano is an accomplished sand sculptor with over 40 years' experience and has organized various international sand sculpture festivals, including the annual event in Jesolo. Varano is joined by 11 artists from around the world, including Damon Farmer from Kentucky and Canadian artist David Ducharme, who are assisting in creating the massive "Sand Nativity" before its December unveiling. Jesolo mayor Valerio Zogga presented sketch designs of the project in December 2017 to Archbishop Francesco Moraglia of Venice. The process of creating the sculptures involves compressing sand and water into blocks that are then sculpted to life-size figures. Unlike the sand castles vacationers often see disintegrate by a single touch or the occasional passing wave, the compression allows for a more durable sculpture that is able to withstand light rain. The "Sand Nativity" scene and tree will remain in St. Peter's Square until the feast of the Lord's Baptism Jan. 13, L'Osservatore Romano reported.
Fri, 02 Nov 2018 07:53:00 -0500
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- "Log on, but bring your brain, your Bible and your Christian values with you" could summarize one of the Synod of Bishops' messages to Catholics young and old. Many people, and not only young people, are "immersed" in the digital culture "in an ordinary and continuous manner," said the final document of the synod on young people, the faith and vocational discernment. Christians need to know the dangers of the medium -- from increasing isolation to cyberbullying and exploitation, the synod said Oct. 27, but they also must be part of the billions of conversations that take place there. The synod document was peppered with references to social media and the digital sphere but had two specific sections devoted to the topic: one on the pervasive nature of digital media in modern life and the other on evangelization and the digital sphere. "Living in a widely digitalized culture," it said, "has very profound impacts on the notion of time and space, on the perception of oneself, of others in the world, on the way of communicating, learning and informing oneself." Bishop Paul Tighe, secretary of the Pontifical Council for Culture, said Catholics and the church itself have work to do. Social media can "hyper-intensify" the idea that fame, achievement, wealth and power are the culture's most important values, which is one reason why entertainers and sports figures have so many social media followers. "We are at a moment when the Gospel's potential to 'disrupt' that culture has never been so strong," Bishop Tighe said. "The Gospel message wants to say fundamentally that we don't have to be in the business of performing, of earning, of proving ourselves all the time. God's love is unconditional, even when we mess up and make mistakes." "The digital environment is not so tolerant of such things," he said, which should give Christians extra incentive to reflect God's love and mercy online. Christina Antus, a writer and mother from Colorado, wrote a piece for the Busted Halo website in September, which included advice about putting down one's phone or tablet. "I think anyone who has a presence online is impacted both positively and negatively by this, and I think it is a big part of why people should switch off" regularly and limit their time online, she told Catholic News Service. "Life offline offers a much different experience," she said. "Switching off allows us to take a break from the digital noise and really put our focus where it's most important: on our life and the lives of those around us." However, when online, she recommended: "being responsible with your time and usage"; following pages and people "you enjoy and who bring substance to your life"; and "if you see, hear or read something that speaks to you, hit the share button. That's a fast, effective and easy way to share the Gospel." The synod document also raised questions about the digital world's focus on images and the implications that has for a faith "based on listening to the Word of God and on reading Scripture." Natasa Govekar, director of the theological-pastoral section of the Vatican Dicastery for Communication, which coordinates Pope Francis' Instagram page, offered a different point of view. "Faith comes from listening to the Word, but we must not forget that it is an incarnate Word," that is, God become flesh in Jesus and has "an image, a face," she said. "That's why from the first centuries this Word that was listened to and celebrated in the liturgy also was painted on icons and church walls." Early Christian art was important not only because many people could not read, but because the use of images "corresponds to the logic of the Incarnation," she said. And the same could be said of the emphasis on images online. "The Word of God always reveals himself through the concreteness of an image: the beauty of nature and art and especially through the light on people's faces, faces transfigured by the Word they have welcomed in their ...
Thu, 01 Nov 2018 09:02:00 -0500
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The Vatican press office confirmed news reports that human bones had been found during reconstruction work in a building connected to the Vatican Embassy to Italy. Italian media immediately surmised that the bones could be those of Emanuela Orlandi, the daughter of a Vatican employee who presumably was kidnapped in 1983 at the age of 15. The case has never been solved but has been the subject of speculation for more than 35 years. In a statement late Oct. 30, the Vatican press office said Rome's chief prosecutor has asked police to carry out a forensic study of the bones to determine "the age, sex and date of death." "During some reconstruction work in a building connected to the apostolic nunciature to Italy," the statement said, "some human bone fragments were found." Vatican police were called, and they called "superiors of the Holy See, who immediately informed Italian authorities for the appropriate investigations." The nunciature is sovereign Vatican property, so the Italian police enter only when requested to do so. The Vatican statement did not provide details about the building where the bones were found. The nunciature itself is housed in Villa Giorgina, a structure built in 1920 and given to the Vatican in 1949. The nunciature, or embassy to Italy, moved into the premises 10 years later. Investigations into the disappearance of Emanuela have been recurring over the past 35 years. Her father was a papal usher and the family lived in the Vatican. Because she lived inside the Vatican and no trace of her was ever found, her case has been an obsession for Italian conspiracy theorists, some of whom have tried to link the case to the Freemasons, the Soviets, organized crime or to victims of the 1982 collapse of Italy's Banco Ambrosiano, which had close ties to the Vatican Bank. But the most common conjecture is that she was kidnapped by a group connected to Mehmet Ali Agca, the Turk captured in St. Peter's Square moments after shooting Pope John Paul II in 1981 and later convicted of attempted murder. The suspicion was strengthened by several letters signed by the "Turkish Anti-Christian Turkesh Liberation Front," which said Emanuela would be freed if Agca were released from prison.
Tue, 30 Oct 2018 09:00:00 -0500
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Speaking on behalf of all adult Catholics, Pope Francis formally closed the Synod of Bishops by asking young people for forgiveness. "Forgive us if often we have not listened to you; if, instead of opening our hearts, we have filled your ears. As Christ's church, we want to listen to you with love" because young people's lives are precious in God's eyes and "in our eyes, too," the pope said in his homily Oct. 28. The Mass, celebrated in St. Peter's Basilica, closed a month-long synod on young people, faith and vocational discernment. The pope thanked the 300 synod members, experts, observers and ecumenical delegates for working in communion, with frankness and with the desire to serve God's people. "May the Lord bless our steps, so that we can listen to young people, be their neighbors and bear witness before them to Jesus, the joy of our lives," he said in his homily. Living the faith and sharing it with the world, especially with young people, entails going out to those in need, listening, being close to them and bearing witness to Jesus' liberating message of salvation, Pope Francis said. The pope used the day's Gospel reading (Mk 10:46-52) and its account of Jesus helping Bartimaeus as a model of how all Christians need to live out and share the faith. Bartimaeus was blind, homeless and fatherless, and he begged for Jesus' mercy as soon as he heard he was near, the pope said. Many rebuked the man, "telling him to be silent." "For such disciples, a person in need was a nuisance along the way, unexpected and unplanned," the pope said. Even though they followed Jesus, these disciples wanted things to go their way and preferred talking over listening to others, he said. "This is a risk constantly to guard against. Yet, for Jesus, the cry of those pleading for help is not a nuisance but a challenge," the pope said. Jesus goes to Bartimaeus and lets him speak, taking the time to listen, Pope Francis said. "This is the first step in helping the journey of faith: listening. It is the apostolate of the ear: listening before speaking." The next step in the journey of faith, the pope said, is to be a neighbor and do what is needed, without delegating the duty to someone else. Jesus asks Bartimaeus, "What do you want me to do for you?" showing the Lord acts "not according to my own preconceived ideas, but for you, in your particular situation. That is how God operates. He gets personally involved with preferential love for every person." Being present and close to people's lives "is the secret to communicating the heart of the faith, and not a secondary aspect," the pope said. "When faith is concerned purely with doctrinal formulae, it risks speaking only to the head without touching the heart," he said. "And when it is concerned with activity alone, it risks turning into mere moralizing and social work." Being a neighbor, the pope said, means bringing the newness of God into other people's lives, fighting the "temptation of easy answers and fast fixes" and of wanting to "wash our hands" of problems and responsibility. "We want to imitate Jesus and, like him, to dirty our hands," just as "the Lord has dirtied his hands for each one of us," he said. "Let us look at the cross, start from there and remember that God became my neighbor in sin and death." When "we too become neighbors, we become bringers of new life. Not teachers of everyone, not specialists in the sacred, but witnesses of the love that saves," Pope Francis said. The third step in the journey of faith, he said, is to bear witness, particularly to those who are seeking life and salvation, but who "often find only empty promises and few people who really care." "It is not Christian to expect that our brothers and sisters who are seekers should have to knock on our doors; we ought to go out to them, bringing not ourselves but Jesus" and encouraging each person by proclaiming that "God is asking you to let yourself be loved by him," he said. "How ...
Tue, 30 Oct 2018 08:30:00 -0500
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- A former nuncio to the United States acknowledged hearing rumors about the sexual misconduct of Archbishop Theodore E. McCarrick already in 1994. Cardinal Agostino Cacciavillan, who served as pro-nuncio to the United States from 1990 to 1998, told Catholic News Service Oct. 29 that he received a phone call from a woman in the months preceding St. John Paul II's visit to the United States in 1995. "I remember in 1994, during the preparation of the papal visit to New York, Newark and Baltimore," Cardinal Cacciavillan said, "I received a telephone call" at the Apostolic Nunciature in Washington, D.C. According to the 92-year-old retired papal diplomat, the caller feared there would be a "media scandal if the pope goes to Newark," Archbishop McCarrick's diocese, because of "voices, voices (rumors) about McCarrick's behavior with seminarians." "It was not a formal complaint, but the expression of a concern," he said. Cardinal Cacciavillan said that he took the matter to the then-archbishop of New York, Cardinal John J. O'Connor, because he was "the closest bishop. No one better than the archbishop of New York would know what was happening in the Archdiocese of Newark." Cardinal O'Connor carried out an "investigation, an inquiry," he said, and told the nuncio that "there was no obstacle to the visit of the pope to Newark." Cardinal Cacciavillan described Cardinal O'Connor, who died in 2000, as a "very competent person," and the retired nuncio said he had no reason to doubt the reliability of Cardinal O'Connor's inquiry. Asked why he thought the phone call warranted an inquiry, Cardinal Cacciavillan responded, "I thought it was something important." Cardinal Cacciavillan told CNS that while he encountered Archbishop McCarrick frequently during the eight years he served as nuncio, he never spoke to Archbishop McCarrick about the rumors nor did he report the rumors to the Vatican. In fact, he said, the first time he spoke to any Vatican official about the rumors was Oct. 7 during a visit with Canadian Cardinal Marc Ouellet, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops. Earlier that day, the Canadian cardinal had released an open letter responding to allegations by Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, another former nuncio, that Pope Francis had known for years about Archbishop McCarrick's behavior and had done nothing about it until accusations were made about him sexually abusing boys. Interviewed in his Vatican apartment, Cardinal Cacciavillan denied reports that he ordered then-Archbishop McCarrick to sell his beach house in Sea Girt, New Jersey, the house where he allegedly brought groups of seminarians and would have one share a bed with him. Archbishop McCarrick sold the house in 1997 while Cardinal Cacciavillan was still nuncio. Cardinal Cacciavillan was not mentioned in the long statement Archbishop Vigano published in August alleging that complaints about Archbishop McCarrick were mishandled for years; the statement did, however, mention steps he claimed Cardinal Cacciavillan's successors -- Archbishops Gabriel Montalvo and Pietro Sambi -- tried to take. "The case of McCarrick came out especially after he was transferred to Washington" in late 2000 and after St. John Paul named him a cardinal in February 2001, Cardinal Cacciavillan said.
Fri, 26 Oct 2018 08:24:00 -0500
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Following the Francigena Way, an ancient pilgrims' path, a group of about 300 synod participants and young people from Rome parishes headed to St. Peter's Basilica to pray at the apostle's tomb. The wayfaring cardinals, bishops, priests and young people were stocked with small backpacks, shod with comfortable sneakers or hiking boots, and readied with hats and water bottles to walk 3.7 miles (6 km) from an urban nature preserve to Christianity's largest church. Sponsored by the Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelization, the pilgrimage was held Oct. 25 as part of the Synod of Bishops on young people, faith and vocational discernment. The walk gave participants opportunities to stop for prayer and for photos, but even more, according to the pilgrimage booklet, it offered a way to experience the itinerant condition of the church, which is the people of God journeying on their way to heavenly Jerusalem. The Synod of Bishops, too, it said, "is a sign of a journey that the community of believers wants to accomplish as a response to God's call" to listen to his Word more closely, to renew one's heart and profess the faith in a more "committed and responsible" way. Pope Francis met the group of pilgrims after they streamed into St. Peter's Basilica and he led them in a profession of the faith above the tomb of the apostle, who with his life and martyrdom, gave witness to the faith. The pope then remained for the Mass celebrated by Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri, general secretary of the Synod of Bishops. Archbishop Rino Fisichella, head of the council for new evangelization, gave the homily and described how St. Peter's life and vocation started with the great trust he put in Jesus' word and the miracles that trust would reap. However, Peter was never quite ready to give up everything for the Lord -- who was always patient and loved him all the same, the archbishop said. It took 30 more years, he said, before the apostle was ready to do more than just follow Christ by giving up everything, including his own life, for God. "Here Peter fulfills his vocation. It takes 30 years. It doesn't matter. God is patient with us," the archbishop said. "He has to find an open heart."
Thu, 25 Oct 2018 08:18:00 -0500
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Every heart longs for unconditional love and fidelity, Pope Francis said. "Christ reveals authentic love," the pope said Oct. 24 during his weekly general audience. "He is the faithful friend who welcomes us even when we make mistakes and he always wants what is best for us, even when we don't deserve it," he said. "Indeed, no human relationship is authentic without fidelity and loyalty," he told thousands of pilgrims in St. Peter's Square. Continuing his series of talks on the Ten Commandments, the pope reflected on Christ's explanation of the Sixth Commandment, "Thou shall not commit adultery." "What God has joined together, no human being must separate" and whoever divorces their spouse to marry another, commits adultery, Jesus said according to St. Mark's Gospel. There are many forms of adultery, the pope said in his audience talk, and fidelity actually reflects "a way of being" and living in the world. "You work with devotion, you speak with sincerity, you stay faithful to the truth in your thoughts and deeds," he said. Men and women whose lives are "woven with fidelity" are "faithful and trustworthy in every circumstance," he said. But "our human nature is not enough" for bringing about this beautiful way of life, he said. "It is necessary for God's fidelity to come into our lives and 'infect' us." "The Sixth Commandment calls us to turn our gaze to Christ, who with his fidelity can take away our adulterous heart and give us a faithful heart," the pope said. The pope reiterated his call for stronger and more effective catechesis in preparation for marriage. This new catechumenate is necessary, he said, because "you can't play around with love," especially when it comes to making a vow that lasts a lifetime. A marriage preparation program that involve just a few meetings is not preparation, "it is fake," he said. It is the full responsibility of the parish priest and bishop to make sure the proper amount of time and discernment have been spent preparing for something that is a true sacrament, not a just formality. The pope said that "every human being needs to be loved unconditionally" and those who do not experience this will seek to fill the void with "surrogates," accepting "compromises and mediocrity" that hardly qualify as love, and mistaking "puppy love" and immature relationships as the true "light" of one's life. Men and women seeking marriage must go beyond physical attraction and discover through a mature and lengthy discernment "the quality of their relationship." They must discern with certainty whether "the hand of God" is leading and accompanying them on their journey, he added. A couple cannot promise to be faithful "for better, for worse" and to love and honor each other every day of their lives "only on the basis of good intentions or on the hope that things 'work out.' They need to base it on the solid terrain of God's faithful love."
Wed, 24 Oct 2018 00:00:00 -0500
While there are many reasons it is imperative for Catholics to continue to have faith in the Church during challenging times, Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, OFM Cap., of Philadelphia, highlights one. In an interview with Our Sunday Visitor, the archbishop — who was in Rome as a member of the permanent committee of the Synod of Bishops on the theme “Young People, the Faith and Vocational Discernment,” from Oct. 3-28 — acknowledged that while the Church faces tough times, “One of the things we all need to recover is an accurate sense of history. It’s a great antidote to despair.” The U.S. prelate also shared his direct pastoral experience with young people, and he described their greatest challenges. He also shared episodes that gave him hope, and he gave practical advice on how young people can best live their faith. Our Sunday Visitor: What do you see as the biggest challenges that young people face today? And what do you think matters most to them? Archbishop Chaput Archbishop Charles J. Chaput: One of the biggest challenges, at least in the so-called “developed” countries, is noise. Young people live in an envelope of distractions. Many have never been outside that envelope, so the Church and her message seem irrelevant to them. We can’t know God, we can’t even really know ourselves, without some measure of silence in our lives. Silence allows us to rest, and think, and ask questions. But everything in American culture is designed to do the opposite: to create restlessness, a constant appetite for things that are new and “loud” in the sense of demanding our attention. I hear all the time that young people crave “authenticity.” I think their real need is meaning. Without God, man doesn’t have a purpose. Only very strong and privileged people can sustain the illusion of creating their own meaning. The rest of us are stuck with a longing for something more than the consumer junk and narcotics our culture offers. We have a daily life that’s packed with material stuff but that lacks beauty. This is why so many young persons are sad. It’s why they’re so angry. Life seems to make no sense. OSV: Could you share some episodes of your encounters with young people that left an impression on you, especially those which give you hope? Archbishop Chaput: The hundreds of thousands of young adults, children and families at the 2015 World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia were astonishing for their faith and enthusiasm. That was a huge boost in hope for anyone who attended. And, likewise, anyone who takes part in the national gatherings of FOCUS [Fellowship of Catholic University Students] will come away changed for the better by the joy and confidence among the young people. They’re alive with the Gospel. ... Synodal Reports During the first three weeks of the 2018 Synod of Bishops, 14 working groups — divided by language — presented three rounds of reports detailing their small group reflections. These reports will be used to form the final document in future months to summarize the findings of the synod. ◗ Round 1, published Oct. 9: addressed the synod in context of recent sex abuse scandals and the need for trust. ◗ Round 2, Oct. 16: focused on how to accompany young people of all walks of life through their journey of faith, emphasizing the need for properly formed “trained mentors.” ◗ Round 3, Oct. 17: dealt with “pastoral and missionary conversion.” Many groups requested that the final document include a section on addressing Church teaching on sexuality. OSV: Why is knowing they are loved by God essential for a young person? But, equally so, how does living their faith by going to Mass — and through regular prayer, reception of the sacraments and trying to follow the advice of the saints — give meaning to the lives of young people? Archbishop Chaput: That gets back to your first question, and the absence of meaning in so many young people’s lives. It’s reflected in today’s young adult suicide rates. God anchors a genuinely human ...
Tue, 23 Oct 2018 08:15:00 -0500
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- While the clerical sexual abuse crisis did not dominate discussions at the Synod of Bishops, Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston said it was discussed, and everyone in the room clearly believed the crisis has to be dealt with. Cardinal DiNardo, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, spoke to Catholic News Service Oct. 22 as the synod was winding down and preparations for the U.S. bishops' November general meeting moved into high gear. The agenda for the November meeting will include multiple items for dealing with the abuse crisis and, particularly, the issue of bishops' behavior and accountability, Cardinal DiNardo said. One suggestion the bishops will examine, he said, is to draw up "a code of conduct for bishops," similar to those that most dioceses have for priests and for lay employees. Another would be to establish a "third-party reporting system" that would allow someone with an abuse complaint against a bishop to report him to someone not connected with his diocese or the bishops' conference. "All of these involve issues that we are going to have to discern," the cardinal said. "We want to do something that will help intensify our commitment to change." For any real change to take place, he said, the bishops must collaborate with each other and with lay experts. Cardinal DiNardo said the bishops would begin their meeting Nov. 12 with some introductory business, but then would go directly into a day of prayer and fasting focused on the abuse crisis. Many of the items that the bishops were due to consider at the November meeting, he said, will be postponed to devote more time to considering concrete steps to take in response to the abuse crisis. However, he said, they will vote on the proposed statement, "Open Wide Our Hearts: The Enduring Call to Love -- A Pastoral Letter Against Racism." Cardinal DiNardo is a veteran of the Synod of Bishops. The gathering Oct. 3-28 on young people, the faith and vocational discernment was his third synod. "One of the best parts of this synod is obvious: the young people," he said. The 34 synod observers under the age of 30 "are lively, they applaud sometimes. They take a great interest in the speakers. They have been a very, very important part of the language groups," where synod members, observers and experts make recommendations for the gathering's final document. The young adults are serious about the church "listening to them, the church being attentive to them," he said. "They also are not opposed to the church's teaching necessarily at all. They want to be heard and listened to, but they also want to draw on the vast beauty and tradition of the church and do some listening of their own." In his speech to the synod, Cardinal DiNardo asked that the final synod document include a reference to how following Jesus includes a willingness to embrace his life-giving cross. Young people are not afraid of a challenge, the cardinal said. "They may not always 'get' things of the church, but they know who Jesus is and Jesus is not mediocre; he doesn't want you and me to be mediocre. He wants us to follow him to the cross and only then to glory." Cardinal DiNardo said he was struck at the synod by the variety of young people and especially the variety of their experiences, including experiences of being persecuted for their Christian faith or the challenges of being part of a Christian minority. "Young people are much more serious than I think we give them credit for," he said. And, hearing a young person's story of faith probably is the most effective way to evangelize other young people. As for the Catholic Church's outreach to young people struggling with church teaching on sexuality or who are homosexual, Cardinal DiNardo said it is not a marginal issue in the lives of young people and it was not a marginal issue at the synod. "A lot of us wanted to mention it and say, 'Yes, it's a real issue; we have to accompany people,'" he said, "but ...
Wed, 17 Oct 2018 00:00:00 -0500
“Above all, one must always be ready for the Lord’s surprise moves, for although he treats his loved ones well, he generally likes to test them with all sorts of trials.” Pope St. John XXIII wrote that while on retreat in late 1959. By then he’d had plenty of experience with God’s surprises. One was his election as pope a year earlier. Another was the idea that came to him soon after his election of convening a new ecumenical council, what we now call the Second Vatican Council. It would be hard to say which of these surprises was the larger one, if not to Pope John, then to just about everyone else. Surprise choice Becoming pope? By the time the conclave of cardinals gathered to choose a successor to Pope Pius XII, a peaceful retirement might have seemed more likely for Cardinal Angelo Roncalli, Patriarch of Venice, who’d already had a rich and full life in the service of God and the Church. And the ecumenical council? Elected pope as he was nearing 77, John XXIII assumed, like everyone else, that he was chosen to serve as an interim pope, a caretaker of sorts, who wouldn’t launch any dramatic new projects. But God had something else in mind. Pope John’s origins hardly pointed to what lay ahead. He was born in northern Italy in 1881, third child of 13 in a family of peasant farmers. But, a bright young man, he became a priest, secretary to the bishop of his diocese, and, after that, director of Italy’s mission-aid organization. In his spare time, he worked on a biography of St. Charles Borromeo. Doing research at the famous Ambrosian Library in Milan, where St. Charles had been archbishop in the 16th century, he got to know its director, Father Achille Ratti. Years later — Father Ratti having become Pope Pius XI — he was named archbishop and Vatican representative in Bulgaria. A quarter-century as a Vatican diplomat followed. During World War II, operating from his post in Istanbul in neutral Turkey, he worked quietly and with good effect to rescue Jews from the Nazis. In 1944 Pope Pius XII chose him as nuncio to France, an important and, at the time, ticklish assignment in which he displayed a notably deft hand in resolving Church-state tensions over Church schools and the naming of bishops. In 1953 Pius XII named him Cardinal and Patriarch of Venice — a prestigious post after which he might reasonably have looked forward to a quiet retirement. But that was not to be. Following the death of Pius XII in October 1958, the cardinals apparently were looking for someone who would be a change from the aristocratic and, in his latter years, increasingly isolated Pope Pius. But who that would be was evidently not so easy to say, and the voting dragged on for 11 or 12 ballots. Cardinal Roncalli had come to the conclave aware that he could be elected pope, but also with a return ticket to Venice in his pocket in the likely event that he wasn’t. Now, apparently as a generally acceptable compromise, the cardinals ’ choice eventually went to him. After all, the cardinals must have reasoned, a pope his age would not be in office very long and therefore not do much of anything to rock the boat. A new ecumenical council was the last thing anyone was thinking about. Or was it? Surprise announcement As a matter of fact, the idea of an ecumenical council dated back to the 1920s and the pontificate of Pius XI, although what was then considered was not a brand new council but the resumption of Vatican Council I. That earlier council had met from December 1869 until the following September, when the French garrison stationed in Rome was withdrawn to go fight the Franco-Prussian War. The bishops who had gathered in Rome promptly went home, anticipating seizure of what was then the pope’s city by troops of the new Italian state eager to make it their capital. Rome soon fell, the pope declared himself “prisoner of the Vatican,” and Vatican I was in limbo. Early in the pontificate of Pius XI, serious thought was given to resuming it. The pope ...
Mon, 15 Oct 2018 07:25:00 -0500
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Carrying Pope Paul VI's pastoral staff and wearing the blood-stained belt of Archbishop Oscar Romero of San Salvador, Pope Francis formally recognized them, and five others, as saints of the Catholic Church. Thousands of pilgrims from the new saints' home countries -- Italy, El Salvador, Spain and Germany -- were joined by tens of thousands of others Oct. 14 in St. Peter's Square to celebrate the universal recognition of the holiness of men and women they already knew were saints. Carolina Escamilla, who traveled from San Salvador for canonization, said she was "super happy" to be in Rome. "I don't think there are words to describe all that we feel after such a long-awaited and long-desired moment like the 'official' canonization, because Archbishop Romero was already a saint when he was alive." Each of the new saints lived lives marked by pain and criticism -- including from within the church -- but all of them dedicated themselves with passionate love to following Jesus and caring for the weak and the poor, Pope Francis said in his homily. The new saints are: Paul VI, who led the last sessions of the Second Vatican Council and its initial implementation; Romero, who defended the poor, called for justice and was assassinated in 1980; Vincenzo Romano, an Italian priest who died in 1831; Nazaria Ignacia March Mesa, a Spanish nun who ministered in Mexico and Bolivia and died in 1943; Catherine Kasper, the 19th-century German founder of a religious order; Francesco Spinelli, a 19th-century priest and founder of a religious order; and Nunzio Sulprizio, a layman who died in Naples in 1836 at the age of 19. "All these saints, in different contexts," put the Gospel "into practice in their lives, without lukewarmness, without calculation, with the passion to risk everything and to leave it all behind," Pope Francis said in his homily. The pope, who has spoken often about being personally inspired by both St. Paul VI and St. Oscar Romero, prayed that every Christian would follow the new saints' examples by shunning an attachment to money, wealth and power, and instead following Jesus and sharing his love with others. And he prayed the new saints would inspire the whole church to set aside "structures that are no longer adequate for proclaiming the Gospel, those weights that slow down our mission, the strings that tie us to the world." Among those in St. Peter's Square for the Mass was Rossi Bonilla, a Salvadoran now living in Barcelona. "I'm really emotional, also because I did my Communion with Monsignor Romero when I was eight years old," she told Catholic News Service. "He was so important for the neediest; he was really with the people and kept strong when the repression started," Bonilla said. "The struggle continues for the people, and so here we are!" Claudia Lombardi, 24, came to the canonization from Brescia, Italy -- St. Paul VI's hometown. Her local saint, she said, "brought great fresh air" to the church with the Second Vatican Council and "has something to say to us today," particularly with his 1968 encyclical "Humanae Vitae" on human life and married love, especially its teaching about "the conception of life, the protection of life always." In his homily, Pope Francis said that "Jesus is radical." "He gives all and he asks all; he gives a love that is total and asks for an undivided heart," the pope said. "Even today he gives himself to us as the living bread; can we give him crumbs in exchange?" Jesus, he said, "is not content with a 'percentage of love.' We cannot love him 20 or 50 or 60 percent. It is either all or nothing" because "our heart is like a magnet -- it lets itself be attracted by love, but it can cling to one master only and it must choose: either it will love God or it will love the world's treasure; either it will live for love or it will live for itself." "A leap forward in love," he said, is what would enable individual Christians and the whole church to escape "complacency ...
Fri, 12 Oct 2018 10:22:00 -0500
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Hundreds of thousands of people around the world will celebrate when Pope Francis formally declares that Pope Paul VI and Archbishop Oscar Romero of San Salvador, El Salvador, are saints. But smaller groups of pilgrims intend to travel to the Vatican Oct. 14 for the same Mass to celebrate the canonizations of five other holy men and women from Italy, Spain and Germany. The following are short biographies of the other five: -- Blessed Vincenzo Romano Called "the workers' priest," Vincenzo Romano was born, served and died in Torre del Greco, Italy, a town in the smoking shadow of Vesuvius. Born in June 3, 1751, in the town near Naples, he was heavily influenced by the teachings of his Neapolitan contemporary, St. Alphonsus Liguori, and was ordained a priest in 1775. He labored with his fellow townspeople in rebuilding the city after Vesuvius erupted in 1794 and was particularly concerned about the spiritual and physical health of seafarers, requesting there be a priest and a doctor on every boat leaving the city's port for Tunis or Sardinia; his ministry was the precursor to the church's seafarer's chaplaincy. Known for his phrase, "Do the good well," Father Romano also produced two booklets to help parishioners understand and participate more fully in the Mass, which was only celebrated in Latin, and to pray the rosary. He died of pneumonia Dec. 20, 1831. Beatifying the priest in 1963, Blessed Paul VI said, "this simple country priest" should be a model of holiness for all priests because of how he was driven by love in his service and sacrifice for others and for the way he shunned all honors, ambition and wealth. -- Blessed Nazaria Ignacia March Mesa Nazaria Ignacia March Mesa was born Jan. 10, 1889, in Madrid and said she first felt the call to religious life when she received her First Communion. Hearing a voice say, "You, Nazaria, follow me," she replied, "I will follow you Jesus, as close as a human creature can." Due to economic hardship, her family moved to Mexico where she went on to join the Little Sisters of the Abandoned Elderly despite her parents' objections, dedicating 12 years of her life to caring for the elderly in Oruro, Bolivia. After taking part in the Ignatian Spiritual Exercises in 1920, she felt a strong desire to form a group that would be "a crusade of love around the church." Encouraged by Archbishop Filippo Cortesi, then-apostolic nuncio to Venezuela, Sister Nazaria left her congregation in 1925 and founded a new order initially called the religious Congregation of the Missionary Sisters of the Pontifical Crusade. The congregation's mission, she said, was "in loving, obeying and cooperating with the church in its work of preaching the Gospel to every creature. That is our life, that is who we are." Three years after receiving diocesan approval, Sister Nazaria was elected as the congregation's first superior general in 1930. Despite her ill health, she traveled to Buenos Aires, Argentina where she lived until her death in 1943. Several years after her death, her congregation's constitution was approved by the Vatican and the order was renamed the Congregation of the Missionary Crusaders of the Church. She was beatified Sept. 27, 1992 by St. John Paul II. -- Blessed Catherine Kasper Born May 26, 1820, in Dernbach, Germany, Catherine Kasper was one of four children. She also had four step-sisters from her father's first marriage. Tragedy struck her family when Catherine was 21 years old and her father died. Due to a law dictating that all property belonged to her father's first wife, Catherine -- along with her mother and siblings -- had to move out, and she worked as a farm hand to earn money for her family. Throughout her life, she had a devotion to helping the poor and the abandoned in her village. Her care for the poor inspired other women to help her and with the encouragement of her spiritual director, she formed a religious congregation, the Poor Handmaids of Jesus Christ. ...
Fri, 12 Oct 2018 08:13:00 -0500
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl as archbishop of Washington but did not name a successor. When the pope's decision was announced Oct. 12, the Archdiocese of Washington released a letter from Pope Francis to the cardinal, making clear his support for Cardinal Wuerl's ministry and leadership, but also praising the cardinal for putting the good of the church first. "You have sufficient elements to 'justify' your actions and distinguish between what it means to cover up crimes or not to deal with problems, and to commit some mistakes," the pope wrote. "However, your nobility has led you not to choose this way of defense. Of this, I am proud and thank you." The archdiocese also announced the pope has named Cardinal Wuerl as apostolic administrator to oversee the archdiocese until a successor is named. Cardinal Wuerl had been facing pressure to resign after an Aug. 14 grand jury report detailing sexual abuse claims in six Pennsylvania dioceses painted a mixed picture of how he handled some of the cases when he was bishop in Pittsburgh from 1988 until 2006. The 77-year-old cardinal, the sixth archbishop of Washington, had submitted his resignation, as is mandatory, to the pope when he turned 75, but it had not been accepted until now. After his resignation was announced Oct. 12, Cardinal Wuerl said in a statement: "Once again for any past errors in judgment, I apologize and ask for pardon. My resignation is one way to express my great and abiding love for you the people of the church of Washington." The cardinal also thanked Pope Francis for what he had expressed in his letter, saying, "I am profoundly grateful for his devoted commitment to the well-being of the archdiocese of Washington and also deeply touched by his gracious words of understanding." In early September, Cardinal Wuerl told priests of the archdiocese that he would meet with Pope Francis and ask him to accept his resignation "so that this archdiocesan church we all love can move forward" and can experience "a new beginning." The Vatican announcement that the pope accepted his resignation came more than two months after the announcement that Pope Francis accepted the resignation of retired Washington Archbishop Theodore E. McCarrick from the College of Cardinals. Archbishop McCarrick faces credible allegations of sexual abuse, including two that involved minors; Pope Francis ordered him to maintain "a life of prayer and penance" while awaiting a trial or other canonical process on the charges. Cardinal Wuerl has said until the Archdiocese of New York began investigating the claims that Archbishop McCarrick abused a minor, he was never informed of such accusations or even the rumors of Archbishop McCarrick's sexual harassment of seminarians. In a letter Aug. 30 to the priests of the archdiocese, Cardinal Wuerl apologized for not being as close to his priests as he could or should have been in the wake of all the abuse-related scandals. Cardinal Wuerl asked the priests "for prayers for me, for forgiveness for my errors in judgment, for my inadequacies and also for your acceptance of my contrition for any suffering I have caused, as well as the grace to find, with you, ways of healing, ways of offering fruitful guidance in this darkness." "Would you please," he told the priests, "let the faithful you serve know of my love, my commitment to do whatever is necessary to right what is wrong and my sincere solidarity with you and them." Cardinal Wuerl has been archbishop of Washington for the past 12 years. He earlier served as an auxiliary bishop of Seattle from 1986 until 1988, when he was named bishop of Pittsburgh, where he served for 18 years. The Archdiocese of Washington is home to more than 655,000 Catholics, 139 parishes and 93 Catholic schools, located in the District of Columbia and in the five surrounding Maryland counties of Calvert, Charles, Montgomery, Prince George's and St. Mary's.
Fri, 12 Oct 2018 00:00:00 -0500
Pope Francis accepted the resignation of Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl, archbishop of Washington, D.C., on Friday, Oct. 12. The 77-year-old embattled traveled to Rome in September to ask Pope Francis to accept the resignation letter that he submitted almost three years ago upon reaching the customary retirement age of 75. “It was clear that some decision, sooner rather than later, on my part is an essential aspect so that this archdiocesan Church we all love can move forward,” Cardinal Wuerl wrote in a Sept. 11 letter to the priests of his archdiocese. Cardinal Wuerl has been the subject of withering criticism since a Pennsylvania grand jury report in mid-August accused him in some cases of reassigning priests who had been credibly accused of sexually abusing minors during his time as bishop of his hometown of Pittsburgh (1988-2006). The Archdiocese of Washington shared a letter from Pope Francis the morning of Cardinal Wuerl’s resignation. In it, the pope praised the cardinal’s “nobility” in choosing to resign, saying “you make clear the intent to put God’s Project first, before any kind of personal project, including what could be considered as good for the Church. Your renunciation is a sign of your availability and docility to the Spirit who continues to act in his Church.” Abuse controversy The cardinal’s supporters have argued that he was an early leader on the issue of clergy sex abuse, and that he did as much as he could to remove dangerous individuals from ministry before the U.S. bishops’ 2002 Dallas Charter instituted new norms and canonical tools. “There are distortions and serious omissions in the grand jury report so that it incorrectly portrayed his record here. People who saw and were aware of what he did at the time understand that,” Ann Rodgers, director of communications for the Diocese of Pittsburgh, told Our Sunday Visitor. Rodgers formerly worked as a local newspaper reporter in Pittsburgh who covered the religion beat and Bishop Wuerl’s 18-year tenure in the Steel City. But other observers counter that the question of whether Cardinal Wuerl should step down goes beyond his individual guilt or innocence in Pittsburgh. They argue he should resign because he was part of an episcopal establishment that failed to protect the Church’s most vulnerable members. “I think about the damage that has occurred to the Church, so this is bigger than any specific case or reference in that grand jury report,” said Patricia McGuire, the president of Trinity Washington University, a Catholic university in Washington D.C.On her blog and in a recent interview with OSV, McGuire said Cardinal Wuerl should resign because his credibility as an archbishop has been compromised. By resigning, McGuire suggested that the cardinal would be displaying “a very serious and elegant act of leadership.” “I think as the leader of the archdiocese and as an important leader in Church, he can play a very serious leadership role in expressing atonement for what’s happening and also to move the discussion to a different place by taking himself out of the picture and not making it about him,” McGuire said. Before the Pennsylvania grand jury report, Cardinal Wuerl had built a reputation for being one of the few bishops who early on acted on the scourge of clergy sexual abuse. He removed some accused priests from ministry, and lobbied for some of the changes the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops adopted in 2002. In one well-known case, then-Bishop Wuerl flew to Rome in 1993 to appeal a Vatican ruling that ordered him to reinstate Father Anthony J. Cipolla. The Vatican court later sided with then-Bishop Wuerl and Father Cipolla, who has since died, was kept out of ministry. However, the grand jury documented other cases where accused priests in Pittsburgh were allowed to return to parish work. In one case, the report says then-Bishop Wuerl permitted one accused priest to be transferred to another diocese. A considerable portion of arguments for and ...